The Puzzle of the Sadducees
Mark 12:18-27
Then come to him the Sadducees, which say there is no resurrection; and they asked him, saying,…

I. THE CASE STATED. An extreme one; and probably a locus classicus in the works of the rabbins. It was supposed to be a reductio ad absurdum of all theories of resurrection or immortality. "In the resurrection" is used apparently in a pregnant sense, as including the judgment, when all questions would be decided, and the conditions of the future state settled. The case as stated referred only to legal and external conditions, questions of sentiment or spiritual attachment being ignored. The only case in Scripture of Christ coming into direct collision with the Sadducees. That the questioners were not maliciously disposed in presenting these difficulties may be inferred from the manner in which they are answered: not indignantly, or with an epithet expressing moral condemnation; but in a straightforward, matter-of-fact way, although censure is also expressed - a kind of censure peculiarly distasteful to such men, who generally pretend to grit originality and critical acumen. They are accused of ignorance and spiritual inexperience.


1. By reference to the possibilities of Divine power. "In the resurrection state there will not be a repetition, pure and simple, of present conditions; there will be advance of inward and outward development. Love will continue; but in the case of the holy it will be sublimed. 'The power of God' is adequate, not only to the re-formative, but also to the transformative changes that may be requisite; and his wisdom will see to it that they be in harmony with the perfectibility of individual personality and the general procession of the ages. Even on earth there are loftier loves than those that are merely marital" (Morison). "They neither marry, nor are given in marriage." "His words teach absolutely the absence from the resurrection life of the definite relations on which marriage rests in this, and they suggest an answer to the yearning questions which rise up in our minds as we ponder the things behind the veil... The old relations may subsist under new conditions. Things that are incompatible here may there be found to coexist. The saintly wife of two saintly husbands may love both with an angelic, and therefore a pure and unimpaired, affection. The contrast between our Lord's teaching and the sensual paradise of Mahomet, or Swedenberg's dream of the marriage state perpetuated under its earthly conditions, is so obvious as hardly to call for notice" (Plumptre). "The present life is but a partial revelation of the Divine power. All the relations of earthly families do not continue in heaven" (Godwin)."

2. By interpretation of Scripture. Not the letter of Scripture is appealed to, but the underlying truth involved in the statement of Scripture, "I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. The copula connecting the first clause of the quotation is not in the original, so that no argument can be founded upon it. Professor Plumptre's explanation - The principle implied in the reasoning is, that the union of the Divine Name with that of a man, as in "I am the God of Abraham,' involved a relation existing, not in the past only, but when the words were uttered. They meant something more than "I am the God whom Abraham worshipped in the past" - is, therefore, manifestly inadequate. That of Dr. Morison is more explicit and profound: "It amounted to this: If there was at all a patriarchal dispensation, embracing a Messianic, or redemptive scheme, and thus involving a Divinely commissioned Messiah or Redeemer, who was to be in due time incarnated, then there must be a life to come. But there was such a dispensation, if it be the case that God became ' the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,' in any distinctive sense whatever. And then, moreover, as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob took personal advantage of the Messianic covenant into which God entered with them, they 'live' They have 'life,' 'everlasting life,' in the intense acceptation of the term" (in loc.). Cf. Hebrews 11:13, 14, 16. A more direct proof might have been obtained in other portions of the Old Testament, but the skill of this argument lay in the reference to a book received by the Sadducees, and in the unexpected interpretation of familiar words. Thus their liberalism and narrowness were rebuked, and the popular longing of the Jews confirmed. The line of evidence led by Christ not only meets the objection to resurrection, but includes the proof of that of which resurrection is only a portion, viz. immortality. If such depth of meaning lay in the words of an old pre-Christian revelation, what may not the gospel itself unfold, when spiritually interpretated in the light of new conditions and experiences

Parallel Verses
KJV: Then come unto him the Sadducees, which say there is no resurrection; and they asked him, saying,

WEB: There came to him Sadducees, who say that there is no resurrection. They asked him, saying,

The Error of the Sadducees
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